Muslim air travellers were refused entry to America yesterday as Donald Trump’s immigration ban kicked in, causing airport chaos.
Several were in transit when President Trump signed the order placing a 90-day pause on immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries.
Among them were an Iranian scientist heading for Boston and visa-holder Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi translator working with US troops.
Hameed was held for 17 hours at New York’s JFK Airport before he was allowed to join his family, who had already been admitted. Another Iraqi, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was released on Saturday after 24 hours’ detention during his trip to Texas to join his wife and son.
Ten others were still being held at JFK last night as protesters gathered outside to condemn the Muslim ban and a 120-day suspension on taking in refugees.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on their behalf, and on Saturday night a judge in the federal court for the Eastern District of New York issued a stay, barring the US from deporting any of those detained.
Judge Ann Donnelly ruled that deportation would cause them “irreparable harm”, though her order did not compel immigration officials to release any of those being held.
The stay is effective across the US, and the ACLU plans to widen the suit to encompass all those affected by the ban.
An untold number of foreign-born US residents now travelling outside the country could be stuck overseas for at least three months, while many who are in the country cannot leave.
Those already in the US with a visa or green card would be allowed to stay, according to one official, who wished to remain anonymous.
Among those also believed to be affected is Olympic hero Mo Farah, who is a British passport holder but was born in Somalia – one of seven countries to which travel restrictions apply.
It emerged late on Saturday that the restrictions would also apply to people with dual citizenship – including Brits.
The gold medal-winner – who now lives in the US – is understood to be away training in Ethiopia – meaning he may not be able to return home to his family.
A Tory MP and his wife are also among those affected by the travel ban.
Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, today revealed he and his wife were both unable to travel to the US because they were born in Iraq.
He wrote on Twitter: “What if you are British of Iraqi origin, as I am? A sad sad day to feel like a second class citizen! Sad day for the USA.”
The politician later followed this up with a second post, tweeting: “Had confirmation that the order does apply to myself and my wife as we were both born in Iraq. Even if we are not dual Nat.”
Officials in Egypt also prevented seven migrants from boarding a flight to the US yesterday.
There were also fears last night that Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi, 45, will not be allowed to attend next month’s Oscars. He is up for a Best Foreign Film Academy Award for The Salesman. He won the category in 2012.
Iran, one of the seven nations barred by Mr Trump, called the ban an insult. It vowed to block all US citizens from entering its country in response. In Turkey, PM Theresa May refused three times to condemn the US stand. But after arriving back from Ankara her spokesman said: “We do not agree with this kind of approach.”
Trump said the ban was “working out very nicely”.
Some of the chaos and confusion was blamed on the Trump administration, which has yet to issue guidance to airlines on how to implement the executive order.
A senior Homeland Security official told NBC News: "Nobody has any idea what is going on."
Source: The Sun UK